Official military Spokesman of the international coalition to defeat ISIS, Colonel Wayne Marotto, said that Washington’s decision to reduce the number of its troops in Iraq and Afghanistan will have a limited impact on the force’s ability to fight the terrorist group.
In remarks to Asharq Al-Awsat, he said that the drop from 3,000 to 2,500 forces will not have a major impact on the coalition’s operations in Iraq and Syria.
The coalition will continue to provide intelligence and logistic support, as well as aerial cover, he added.
In November, acting US Defense Secretary Christopher Miller said that President Donald Trump would reduce the number of forces in Iraq and Afghanistan to 2,500 each by next January.
Marotto said the international coalition troops do not play a combat role in Iraq, explaining that Iraqi forces carry out their operations independently. The coalition provides support for them to carry out their missions.
The coalition has trained over 240,000 members of the Iraqi security forces, he continued. The coalition will play a “guidance” role instead of accompanying the forces in field operations.
In Syria, he stated that the coalition continues to operate in line with United Nations Security Council resolution 2254. It is committed to defeated ISIS and its remnants in Iraq and Syria.
Iraqi analysts and military experts had expressed their concern that a drop in American forces would be exploited by Iran that is seeing to impose its hegemony in its neighboring country. They also fear that ISIS would again resurface and carry out more operations in Iraq, especially in liberated regions.